If you don't know about the Rainbow Loom, let me tell you about it because it is truly a perfect addition to any occupational therapist's bag of tricks, especially if you work with school age children. Basically, the Rainbow Loom (pictured at the left) is a set to make friendship bracelets. Using a plastic loom, a hook and a bunch of brightly colored rubber bands, you make an awesome bracelet out of small colored rubber bands. You place the rubber bands on the loom and then use a hook to weave the rubber bands into a colorful bracelet. I encourage the kids to use their pinchers (fine pincer grasp) to place the rubber bands onto the pegs. You have to follow a pattern so this is great for visual motor and visual perceptual skills. I encourage the children I work with to choose a pattern and follow it from beginning to end to work on planning and organization skills in addition to the aforementioned visual skills. If you have a child who needs to work on visual skills, this is a great craft activity for them.
|Here is the original set. Perfect for throwing in a bag|
for those of you who do lots of home care or running from
school to school
In addition to what I have already mentioned, The Rainbow Loom can work on the following occupational therapy goals:
|This child is using great bilateral coordination|
for the completion of her bracelet
Improve Grasping Skills-if you have a child who struggles with pencil grasp, this is another way you can work on encouraging a proper grip. If you look at the picture below, you will see that you should hold the Rainbow Loom hook with a tripod like grasp. I work with so many children who avoid working on handwriting activities and most of the time it is because their grasp on a writing instrument causes them so much difficulty with the task. Using the Rainbow Loom can be a sneaky way to work on improving a pencil grasp without the child even knowing it!
|Check out the tripod grasp being used in this picture. |
This is the grasp that is expected when holding a writing instrument
|Do you have a child who needs to work on his/her organizational|
skills? The Rainbow Loom kit above is a great way to
encourage a child to keep their supplies neat and organized.
Improve Self-Esteem and Confidence-I can still remember making friendship bracelets when I was younger. I can remember struggling learning how to get it just right and feeling frustrated when it didn't come out perfectly. But then, I finally got it and finished that bracelet and gave it to a friend and felt so good about myself. Since this is an activity that is a bit of a fad right now, all the kids want to do it and do it well. Being able to take their looms and make bracelets alongside their friends will help the kids I work with feel better about themselves and much more confident in his/her skills. And in the end, if I have helped make a kid I work with feel better about themselves, then I have done what I truly set out to do.
How many of you have memories of making friendship bracelets growing up? I can clearly remember going to the craft store with my mom and sisters and picking out tons of embroidery thread and spending hours and hours with my clipboard creating bracelets. It wasn't easy and I had to start over again time and time again, but the satisfaction I felt when I completed a bracelet was awesome. It made me feel so proud to create something and then be able to give it to a friend or family member. I am loving watching that satisfaction and pride in the children I am working with. What I really love is that this is an activity that is the rage amongst so many young (6-10 years old) kids this summer. So when a child I work with, who typically struggles being able to do things like their peers, masters this, I know they feel good and are more likely to try this with their peers. Way too often, I see children I work with avoid to do activities that they really want to do because they are afraid to not be as good as their friends. I love watching them practice and then master something like the Rainbow Loom and then go out and do it alongside their friends. Not only makes them feel proud, but it makes them feel like they are part of their peer group which is something that many of the children I work with typically struggle with.
If you are wondering where you can pick up a Rainbow Loom kit for your kids, I suggest checking out local toy stores first and seeing if they carry them. My love of supporting small businesses is no secret. I know that Stoopher and Boots on the Upper West Side in Manhattan carries them (and the accessories). The educational store Learning Express carries them as well. If you have no luck there, check out Amazon.com and see what you can find there. This is where I found the Rainbow Loom Deluxe kit for my niece Julia's 8th birthday and am pretty certain I have not given her a gift that has made her this happy in all 8 years of her life!
I am excited to hear about your experiences with the Rainbow Loom with your kids. Do you have a pattern that you have introduced to the kids you work with that has been easier for them than others? Have you come up with ways to adapt the activity for children? I would love to hear from all of you about your experiences with the Rainbow Loom. As always, I am just a click away and really do love hearing from my readers.